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Power Button - Episode 240: E3 2017 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs another E3 draws to a close it's time to review and recap the year's biggest week in gaming.  Join us with annual guest Ross Polly to discuss all the news and excitement including Microsoft's new Xbox One X console; classic Xbox games arriving on Xbox One; Blake's excitement for Crackdown 3, Sony hitting trailers hard with teases for the new Uncharted, Spider-Man, and Days Gone; Ubisoft's ambitious Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Assassin's Creed: Origins; and Nintendo's big showcase featuring Super Mario Odyssey, Metroid Prime 4, Metroid: Samus Returns, Yoshi, Kirby, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions, and much more.  We have a supersized two and a half hour episode for you, so settle in and prepare for some fun.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.

Nintendo Is Committed To Amiibo

Samus Aran amiiboWhile the toys-to-life market is shrinking after the withdrawal of Disney Infinity from the business, Nintendo continues to support its successful amiibo line with over a dozen new figurines announced at E3 2017 based around Mario, Peach, and Bowser in wedding attire from Super Mario Odyssey; the four champions from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; assorted Links from other Zelda games; Goomba and Koopa Troopa from the world of Super Mario Bros.; Samus Aran and a metroid from Metroid: Samus Returns; new Fire Emblem entries; and more.  It's an impressive product range that offers at least one thing for just about everyone.

I love amiibo.  Despite only planning to buy three or four of them when the product line first launched, I now have over a dozen.  I've taken them out of the packaging and use most of them.  Amiibo like Mario and Bowser are frequently used in games like Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, but some of the figurines like Waluigi and Pac-Man I only bought as desk decorations.  Basically, my amiibo collection is a land of contrasts.  Each time I tell myself I'm done with purchasing amiibo, Nintendo goes and announces something like a metroid amiibo that has an actual squishy membrane.  How can I not want that as a long-time fan of the little lifesuckers?  Then there's the iconic and beloved Goomba and Koopa Troopa to which I've decided that my glow in the dark Boo amiibo needs friends.  I'm not at the level of fans who want to own each and every amiibo and hang the boxes on the wall in a showcase, but I can understand how some people get to that point.  These little figurines are just so neat.  So, in the end, I'm glad that Nintendo is committed to amiibo because goodness knows I am too. 

Metroid: Samus Returns Gives MercurySteam A Shot At Redemption

Metroid: Samus Returns

Nintendo surprised every today during the company's E3 2017 showcase by announcing two new Metroid games.  Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch was revealed with a logo and a statement that the game is in development, while the Treehouse Live broadcast spent nearly an hour discussing Metroid: Samus Returns for the Nintendo 3DS which is an updated remake of 1991's Metroid II: Return of Samus from the Game Boy era.  Not since the coming of Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion fifteen years ago have Samus Aran fans had so much Metroid on the way.  Here's the bullet points from Samus Returns:

  • This intense, side-scrolling action platformer has been completely remade with engaging and immersive 3D visuals and a rich, atmospheric color palette.
  • Classic Metroid II: Return of Samus gameplay is joined by a wealth of new content, including a set of brand new abilities that utilizes a mysterious energy resource called “Aeion,” a powerful melee counterattack, and 360-degree Free Aim Mode. 
  • There are plenty of secrets to find—and if you uncover enough of them, you may even start to unravel the mystery of Planet SR388’s past. 
  • Two new amiibo™ figures*—Samus Aran and Metroid—will be released as a set alongside the game. This game is also compatible with the Zero Suit Samus and Samus amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. series. Functionality details will be revealed at a later date. 
  • While supplies last, fans will be able to purchase a special edition of the game, which includes a physical copy of the game, a sound-selection CD featuring 25 tracks from across the Metroid franchise, and a reversible title-sheet insert for the game case. 

Developer MercurySteam is behind this one and you may remember them from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and its 3DS spinoff, Mirror of Fate.  I wasn't happy with any of their Castlevania work, but Mirror of Fate was very much in the Metroid/Castlevania: Symphony of the Night style, so they have the skills to pull this off.  They are talented people, but they seem to have a bad habit of letting their games wander away down the path without proper guidance and oversight.  Each of their Castlevania titles started strong and then ended up in the weeds, becoming long slogs where the immediate goal was easily forgotten.  Nintendo is surely keeping them close to help move Metroid in the right direction. 

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Banjo-Kazooie In The Mushroom Kingdom

Banjo-KazooieIf you consider how Nintendo characters tend to hop around each others' worlds, it makes sense how Rare's Banjo-Kazooie exists in the same world as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros.  Banjo appeared in the Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing (back when the two companies were best of business buddies) who, of course, co-starred with Donkey Kong Country's Diddy Kong.  Kong co-starred with Donkey Kong in DKC, and he bumps into Mario all of the time in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series which, and you know where I'm going with this, stars Mario himself.  This transitive property gets us to a place where Banjo and Kazooie may have visited Princess Peach's castle at some point in time, and thanks to ROM hacking, we get to see that encounter.  Luke Ford is working to transplant Super Mario 64's levels into Banjo-Kazooie.  The hack doesn't seem to be publicly available and this video is from 2016, but it delighted me so much that I had to share it.  It's strange to see the bear and bird duo wandering around Whomp's Fortress and the castle gardens, but they're an interesting fit and I would be interested in playing through the entire game with them just for the novelty factor. 

8-Bit Darkwing Duck On Patrol

Darkwing Duck

He is the terror that flaps in the night!  He is the Perler bead sculpture that I bought at Megacon a few weeks ago!  He is Darkwing Duck as seen in Capcom's Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name which was recently re-released as part of The Disney Afternoon Collection for modern consoles and PC.  I came across the Perly Pixels Perler bead art shop while I was roaming the dealer tables and this Darkwing sculpture caught my eye immediately.  In fact, artist Luis had the whole Capcom Disney set there including characters from Rescue Rangers and Talespin, but I knew I had to have Darkwing.  He's remarkably well crafted from his 8-bit sprite and the first aid box base is modeled after the health pick-ups in the game.  It's very well done and I'm happy to share it with you all here.

Nintendo Switch Online Comes Into Focus

Nintendo Switch OnlineLate last week Nintendo announced a little more about its paid online service for the Switch console which will be conveniently called Nintendo Switch Online.  We knew a little about it prior to this announcement, but only in abstact: it will cost money, it's coming "later", and some form of classic Nintendo games will be included with the subscription and will be adapted to allow online play.  Now we know more.  Check out Nintendo's site to learn all about it.  Here's the high points:

  • You’ll be able to play compatible co-op and competitive games online by signing in with your Nintendo Account. Online play will be free for Nintendo Account holders until our paid online service launches in 2018.
  • Our new dedicated smart device app will connect to Nintendo Switch and let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games─all from your smart device.
  • Subscribers will get to download a compilation of classic titles with added online play, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario.

All of this will set you back twenty dollars a year (slightly more if you pay month to month).  There's already lots of criticism about this announcement.  On the one side, you have complaints about being charged any amount of money while online play has been free on the Wii, Wii U, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS; dissatisfaction at Nintendo relying on a smartphone app for in-game chat while the competition can do it in-console; and of course the lackluster launch titles like Balloon Fight.  On the other side, what do you expect for $20 while the competition charges $60 for their services?  Like everything else Nintendo does in the online space, it's best to keep your expectations low and see what the company actually manages to produce.  I'm not clamoring to play Balloon Fight in single-player mode let alone online, but at least we can all be glad that Urban Champion isn't on the list. 

The fact of the matter is that Nintendo is rising back to the top of its game and leaving the free offers and generous discounts of the Wii U era behind.  The company can't keep Switches on store shelves.  They do not need to be charitable or offer enticing deals to sell units anymore.  I enjoyed the "please buy this, we're begging you!" phase of Nintendo history too when the company gave away a free game for buying Mario Kart 8 and gave back a percentage of each Wii U eShop purchase in store credit, but those days are over.  Even the fun freebies of Club Nintendo have given way to the lackluster loyalty program My Nintendo.  Nintendo leadership has changed and the company is ready to be profitable again, and those profits?  They come from us.

Follow The Aeros

Aero the Acro-batI'm long on the record of being a fan of the Aero the Acro-Bat series from the Super NES era (so much so that, as you'll recall, I tracked down the original design documents for the first game in the franchise), but I never managed to pick up a copy of the Game Boy Advance version of Aero's debut adventure.  While wandering around the dealer area at Megacon last weekend, I browsed the display case at one of the game vendors and found the game pak in great condition for a mere $6.95, so naturally I had to have it.  It's a mixed bag of ports; the music took a hit from the original Super NES version (as did most 16-bit ports to the GBA thanks to the handheld's comparatively lesser quality sound capabilities), but there are a few new additions to the game that help to clearly define the storyline and the goal of each level.  It joins my collection and hopefully I can give it the level of play that it deserves.  According to the save data already on the cartridge, the previous owner never even completed the third level!  Yes, I can definitely do better than that.

I, Wario: A Megacon MemWAAAHoir

Megacon Wario and Syrup costumes

I went to my first Megacon last weekend.  My girlfriend and one of her friends went in together on a vendor table to sell their jewelry, masks, and hair decorations, so I was there to help out behind the scenes.  Apparently you can't go to Megacon without wearing an appropriate outfit, so we chose a couples costume worthy of our gaming backgrounds.  On Saturday we became Wario and Captain Syrup from Nintendo's famed Wario Land series, and in my travels around the convention I experienced what it was like to be recognized (and not recognized) as one of gaming's most famous anti-heroes.

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Once More Unto The Mega Man Breach

Mega ManMega Man music remixes are not hard to find (even if it seems like more than half of them are someone twanging away at Air Man's theme or metal raging at Dr. Wily's Mega Man 2 fortress theme), but I like to point out when I come across something special.  Today's selection comes to us from the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System and is a soulful, almost forlorn take on the first theme of Dr. Wily's stages"Breach" by Brandon Strader is available as part of the tribute album For Everlasting Peace: 25 Years of Mega Man from OverClocked ReMix, and it's rare to hear a Mega Man remix with such spirit and energy behind it while still enhancing the original source material.  There's genuine talent here that evokes the uphill battle of Mega Man's original campaign against Dr. Wily and the Robot Masters.  Fight on, blue bomber!  For everlasting... oh, you know the rest.

(image via The Mega Man Network)

Nintendo Says "See It. Touch It. Play It."

Nintendo DS shirtIn the old days of E3 in the mid-2000s, video game publishers were more generous with their promotional handouts than they have been in recent years.  It wasn't uncommon to find people lugging sacks of collected goodies around with them as they trudged between North and West Halls at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  2004 was my first year in the video game reviewing biz, and at the time I was working for GameCube Advanced, a little outlet that would later go in to become Kombo.  Being new to the GCA group in 2004, I worked the so-called homebound team covering E3 that year, writing up previews and opinion pieces based on the material that our on-site team in Los Angeles would send back after a long day on the show floor (remember, this was before the convenience of iPhones and ubiquitous Wi-Fi).  It was a long week of late hours, so as a thank you gesture, the on-site team sent all of us at home a box of E3 hand-outs.  The best and most interesting thing I received in that box was this Nintendo DS t-shirt that was handed out as part of the handheld's premiere.  What's especially interesting about it is that the DS design on the shirt is not the final design that would ship to stores later that year, but is the iteration of the handheld that Nintendo was showing at E3.  Take a trip back on memory lane to IGN's archives if you'd like to see more of the original DS design.  I'm just here to show you the shirt.

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